IT MAY well be the height of summer, but festive preparations at one of Bucks’ impressive stately homes takes so long, staff are already getting into the Christmas spirit.

Every Christmas for the past 19 years has seen Waddesdon Manor pull out all the stops with spectacular festive displays – and 2021 is set to be no different.

The award-winning Christmas extravaganza at Waddesdon, the Rothschild house and gardens, is back this winter from November 12 to January 3 with a new route that will light up the formal Parterre for the very first time.

Visitors can stroll under the stars with family and friends alongside bushes draped in sparkle, explore with the Winter Light Trail, and enjoy a mulled wine or some tasty street food from the Christmas Fair.

Highlights this year will include a light display projected onto the Manor’s façade, the colour-washed woodland and outdoor multisensory, interactive light features.

In the Coach House Gallery, visitors will encounter light works by Leo Villarreal, the artist behind London’s Illuminated River project.

Christmas preparations usually begin 12 to 18 months in advance at Waddesdon, and once planning is complete it takes a team of 20 people four weeks to string hundreds of thousands of fairy lights, install eleven Winter Light features and hang 3.2 km of festoon lighting around the grounds.

Simon Wales, Waddesdon’s CEO said: “This year has been another challenging one for everybody, but we hope to end things on a high note by bringing a bit of magic to Waddesdon this Christmas.

“Having been awarded the ‘Best Christmas Experience’ at the Group Leisure and Travel Awards for the past two years, Waddesdon comes into its own during the festive season, and there truly is nothing better than seeing families and friends enjoying the unique atmosphere, sparkle and fun of Waddesdon at this time of year.”

Longer than ever before, the Winter Light trail is especially designed to accentuate Waddesdon’s natural treasures. Starting at Daffodil Valley, the ground will be covered by a glittering, twinkling blanket of lights, newly designed for 2021.

Elsewhere, a bed of individually ‘planted’ rose lights will glow and grow before your eyes, as the Rose Garden is lit as part of the Winter light trail for the first time. The trail continues through a tunnel of ‘light loops’.

At the end of the trail, visitors can wander beneath colourful tree canopies as part of a musical walk-through lightshow and discover four-metre-high Giant Dandelion sculptures, the first of their kind in the UK. Large trees and smaller saplings will be lit throughout the route.The Parterre will also be lit for the first time, with a light show that plays on the regimented patterns of the planting display, set to a musical soundtrack.

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At the Stables, a huge ‘pixel pyramid’ standing over six metres tall will offer another festive photo opportunity to remember the day. Suspended within the pyramid are thousands of hanging, colour-changing pixels, dancing to festive music to create 3D shapes and graphics.

In the Coach House Gallery, visitors will encounter light works by Leo Villarreal, the artist behind London’s Illuminated River project, alongside a display showing how this long-term art installation (physically the longest piece of public art in the world) is transforming the Thames at night with an orchestrated series of light works that spans nine bridges in the city.

From November 13 until December 23, the popular Christmas fair will also be returning to Waddesdon, giving shoppers the opportunity to pick up some unusual Christmas gifts.

Set amongst festooned trees and housed in charming wooden chalets, visitors will be able to browse over 80 selected artisan stalls selling handmade gifts, decorations, and scrumptious food (to either eat on the day or to take home). The chalets will be decked with fairy lights, and set against the backdrop of the floodlit Manor, illuminated with dancing lights and decorated with six large Christmas trees.

Waddesdon expects to welcome around 150,000 visitors over the festive period, staff will lay more than 21,000 metres of cable for the lights with over 100,000 fairy lights, chefs will hand-make more than 4,000 mince pies with homemade mincemeat, apples from Eythrope walled garden and flour from the Waddesdon Estate and 6,000 festive afternoon teas will be served in the Manor Restaurant.

Prices from £17 for adults, £8.50 for children. Full details of prices and online booking details can be found at

All visits must be pre-booked online to stagger arrivals and minimise crowding, including for National Trust members.